January 8, 2010

Four-star Coleman says Vols will get visit

SAN ANTONIO -- Shon Coleman's week at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl here in the Alamo City is something of a primer for the four-star offensive lineman.

Not only is Coleman facing the nation's best football players, but he's living out of a suitcase. The Olive Branch, Miss., product has several visits on his docket in coming weeks -- including next weekend at the University of Tennessee.

"Basically my top five is where I'm going to take my official visits. Tennessee, Miami, Auburn, Arkansas and there's one more slot left which will probably go to Ole Miss," said Coleman. "Right now I'm committed to Auburn so if anything comes up, it will probably go to signing day or maybe before [should that commitment change]."

Since receiving an in-home visit from Tennessee's offensive line coach, James Cregg, Coleman is looking a little more closely at what the Vols are offering.

"Coach Cregg, we have a good relationship. He took an in-home visit to my house and we got to know each other and he got to know my parents and stuff," said the 6-foot-7-inch, 285-pounder. "Tennessee is recruiting me a lot. They say they've got a spot for me. I'm going down there for an official visit next weekend."

Here this week, Coleman is facing some of the top defensive line prospects in the country - both on his East squad in practice and Saturday at 1 p.m. in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He's working mostly with the first unit of linemen and earning the praise of accomplished East assistant coach, David Ellis, a former Georgia high school head coach and longtime line coach at Maryville High School.

"Shon's the real deal. He's an Auburn commit I think right now, and he's turned down some other folks to make that commitment. Shon Coleman, he's got the feet, he's got that long reach that you want in a tackle. He can get his hands on you and get in pass protection real quick," Ellis said. "It's a cliché, but it's the truth: he's got all the tools. And he is a genuine hard-worker and a genuine, 'Yes sir, I want to learn' kind of person. It's been a pleasure, and it's easy to see how Shon has gotten to where he is."

While some linemen look at the Vols' vacancies on the offensive front next season as an enticing prospect, Coleman is focusing on a variety of factors in winding toward signing day on Feb. 3.

"It's not really a factor for early playing time. It's just for me to come in, get better, be in a great weight program. And if the opportunity comes for me to start (in the first year), I'll go with it," he said.

And Coleman believes he knows his strengths and weaknesses as he works toward next season.

"Athleticism, speed, strength," are assets, he said. "Just being able to compete. Just to compete better, come off the ball better. This is going to be the fastest game I've ever played. So just playing in a fast-speed game.

"It's a good experience. It's a time to get out there and get better against the best players in the country."

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